Stuck with ‘electronic brochures’? How boundary management strategies shape politicians’ social media use.

Hoffmann, C. P. & Suphan, A. (2017). Stuck with ‘electronic brochures’? How boundary management strategies shape politicians’ social media use. Information, Communication & Society, 20(4), 551-569. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1200646

Social media provide new opportunities for politicians, such as personalized communication directed at specific communities of interest. Yet despite potential benefits, empirical analyses show that politicians tend to shy away from an active engagement of online audiences. This study explores the effect of politicians’ online boundary management on their use of social media. Ties maintained through social media profiles can be embedded in diverse social contexts (‘context collapse’). Professional communicators, especially, are faced with the challenge of managing boundaries between professional and private online self-presentations. Based on a survey of 106 German members of parliament, we distinguish four types of boundary management strategies. We analyze the effects of these strategies on politicians’ social media use practices – and find that considering boundary management strategies allows for a better understanding of politicians’ online engagement (or lack thereof).